Presenting at eLearning Africa 2015
The Power & Promise (& Problems) of Free & Open Source Software
Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) is a powerful tool that holds great promise for educational institutions. There are many advantages for schools, universities and other organizations availing themselves of the many infrastructure tools, application packages, and operating systems that are free and able to be used, shared and customized.
- Explain the strengths and opportunities for educational organizations in using FOSS
- Provide specific examples of how FOSS has been used in one school (ICS Addis)
- Identify potential problems and how they can be avoided or managed
These are the slides from the presentation: Power & Promise Slides.
- These slides were used to supplement the talk. You can see my notes on the Slideshare version
- Credit: most of the photos come from Pixabay,a great source of public domain images.
More detailed information is published in the abstract of the presentation.
If you want to learn more about using free & open source software in schools, here are a few places to check out:
Software used at ICS
Below are just some of the free & open source software tools that ICS Addis has used over the years.
- eLearning: Moodle
- Moodle is a powerful system developed specifically for delivering online learning experiences. It is widely used by schools and universities around the world and is known for its customizability.
- ePortfolio: Mahara
- Mahara is a system designed specifically for e-portfolios. It is widely used by schools and universities around the world. It integrates very well with Moodle, creating a very dynamic learning & portfolio system.
- website: Drupal
- Drupal is a powerful website builder and is used by many schools, universities and other organizations (including the White House domain for the US President). Drupal has a huge community, with many templates, plugins and customizations. At ICS, we use Drupal for our main school website and we have student-managed websites (eg for our MUN) that run on Drupal.
- blogging: Wordpress
- Wordpress is probably the most widely used blogging system, and is completely free and open source. At ICS, we have our own institutional install of Wordpress, which allows teachers, students and groups to create their own blogs.
- email: Zimbra
- Zimbra is a free mail server system that we use to run our email system. It is a "collaboration suite" that also includes calendaring, shared documents and shared contacts.
- Cloud Storage: OwnCloud
- OwnCloud lets you create your own hosted cloud storage environment. ICS uses it for backups, file sharing, and more. It's hosted on our servers, so it's 100% reliable and we own all the data.
- Servers: Linux
- Linux completely dominates the market for server software. It is extremely powerful, secure and scalable.
- User desktops/laptops: Ubuntu
- Ubuntu is one of many versions of Linux that have been developed for end users rather than servers. It is a fully-functional operating system that is easy to learn and use and can be used on any computer. There are varieties designed specifically for schools, as well lightweight variations for older computers.
- Office Productivity: LibreOffice
- LibreOffice is a very powerful productivity suite, with a word processor, spreadsheet, presentation tool as well as database and drawing tool. It is very comparable to Microsoft Office, and just as powerful. It is cross-platform and can be installed and shared freely.
- Web Browser: Firefox
- While we allow users to use different browsers, we encourage people to use Firefox. It is free and open, cross-platform and customizable.
- Photo editing: GIMP
- The GIMP is a powerful image & photo editing tool, comparable to Photoshop. It is free to use and share, has many plugins and a wide community of users.
- Audio editing: Audacity
- Audacity is probably the most widely used audio-editing software. It easily edits, transforms and enhances audio and is great for recording and editing podcasts.
- Graphic Design: Inkscape
- Inkscape is a great design tool for creating scalable vector graphics, such as clip art or schematic designs. It is widely used, cross-platform, and very powerful.
- Mathematical modeling: Geogebra
- Geogebra is a cross-platform mathematical modeling software, useful in any Middle School or High School mathematics class.
- Application Development: LiveCode
- LiveCode is great for students and adults to create cross-platform applications. It has a simple programming language and an easy-to-use interface which enables anyone to build programs for computers or mobile devices.